Do you know any vegetarians? How about vegans? D and I are friends with a couple where he is hard core vegan and she is a vegetarian, mostly, well kinda, she eats cheese, and eggs sometimes, and well, if you talked her into it probably some fish. But anyway, this story is about the vegan.
We met up one night at the new gastropub in Orange, The Haven for a beer on a Saturday. I had been doing my nightly beer, wine, or spirits research and had recently read about the classic smoke beer Rauchbier. I was really excited when I saw that it was on the menu because I hadn't been able to find it anyplace else. D and I ordered before our friends got their. She ordered the Saison Dupont which I had introduced her to earlier. D doesn't like big heavy beers but she appreciates a well made one. The Saison has a nice tart lemon flavor and is bright and bubbly. A pretty typical farmhouse ale. Our friends finally showed up, and ordered. It happened that our vegan friend ordered the Stone Smoked Porter. Which I was excited about since that meant I could compare the two smoked ales side by side.
I poured the Rauchebier which was a deep brown and clear, however the head did not stay long. It may have been the glass, I think something Haven uses in their glasses inhibits retention because I have never had a head last long there. That first drink hit me like a mastodon baby back rib to the forehead. I had never had a smoked beer before until this beer. NOTHING compares to this brew with its malt smoked over beechwood. The aftertaste of not just smoke but slow smoked meat like you would find at a southern pit barbecue restaurant lingered on my palate for a long time. I wasn't sure if I liked it or not but it definitely was interesting and had an incredible depth of flavor. I switched brews for the Stone and I could barely detect a hint of smoke. That might have been because I still had a pulled pork sandwich aftertaste from the Rauchbier in my mouth but there definitely was no comparison. I anxiously awaited the reaction from the vegan from his first swig. He swallowed, paused, and smiled. "That is sooo good! It tastes like, LIQUID BACON." Needless to say, The Vegan, did not want to give my beer back since he was drinking the animal protein he had foresaken for so long. I'm not sure how he remembered what bacon tastes like I only know that I definitely did not get a whole lot more of my rauchbier.
Moral? If you want a big, beefy(literally), smoky beer, with a LOT going on in the flavor department try this one out. Oh, and if you want to keep your liquid bacon don't give it to a vegan.